27 February 2007

House arrest

The psychodog is under house arrest. That's him, at right, just after being sentenced.

Thinking (one assumes) that my short, slight, mild-mannered neighbor was going to attack me as we opened our side-by-side mailboxes a couple of days ago, my heroic but addlepated psychodog leapt to my defense and, quick as lightning and out of nowhere, bit the man on the calf.

My neighbor yelled, I yelled, and the psychodog went running back down the driveway, where he waited at the halfway-down point for me, cowed by being called a “BAD DOG!” while I apologized profusely to my poor neighbor and we inspected the damage to his leg. The psychodog’s teeth had broken his skin, one of the punctures was welling blood, but it didn’t appear deep.

He told me he’d let me know if there was any problem. He said he didn’t want to report the bite, because the county would “take away your dog.” Now, this guy has been our caddy-corner neighbor on this back-roads cul-de-sac for as long as we’ve lived here, which will be 10 years next November. Until recently, I was always away, working down the mountain in the daytime, so I’ve never gotten to know him well, but we’ve always been friendly. And he knows the psychodog, who we rarely have out in front with us unless he’s leashed or otherwise restrained because he’s so insanely protective.

Stupidly, this time I'd let the dog come outside with me. The street is so quiet, you see, and with the snow, no one was around. He just loves the snow; he was nosing around in the laurels at the bottom of the drive, snuffing up snootfuls of white, powdery snow as I waded up the steep drive to the mailbox. I’d just stopped to ponder the deep drift left in front of it by the county snowplow, wondering if I could reeeeaaach across it to the box, when my neighbor drove up, hopped out of his car, and smiling a greeting, joined me to get his mail.

After the psychodog chomped him, he went back into his house, and I went back into mine. The psychodog got a thorough scolding – lots of “BAD DOGs” -- and I refused to touch him. I even turned my back when he tried to nuzzle my hand and make nice. He knew he’d screwed up, big time. After a minute, he went to the very, darkest end of the hallway and laid down, his face to the corner. He stayed there for close to three hours.

It turns out that the following day, my neighbor woke up with a low-grade temperature. So he went to the doctor and reported that he’d been bitten by my dog. The doctor, of course, contacted animal control. I haven’t heard yet whether being bitten had anything to do with his fever. I sure hope not.

A very large animal control officer with a star on his chest just stopped by. The psychodog is under quarantine until March 5. Lucky for him, it’s just house arrest, as the officer was surprisingly sympathetic when I told him that being taken away from Mr. Wren, me and his familiar surroundings would completely undo this dog. He’d be so frightened, so totally freaked ...

After the officer left, I called the vet’s office and asked them to please fax the dog’s rabies vaccination certificate to the county, which they agreed to do posthaste. He’s not due for a rabies booster until July.

He’s just a psychodog. We’ve had him since he was a puppy; he’s always been deeply and, unfortunately, ferociously suspicious of people outside his pack. We tried, when he was still quite young, to socialize him as we were training him, but to no avail. We finally gave up, afraid he might bite someone who didn't listen when we said "NO! Don't pet him!" Still, he was always a very intelligent dog and anxious, so anxious, to please. So he’s well-trained and obeys our commands. If I'd seen him coming up the drive intent on his dog-hero mission, I'd have stopped him with a "NO!" I feel like such a fool.

I’ve lived with the fear that this could happen someday, even as I’ve loved this dog more than any other dog I’ve ever had the privilege to share my life with. He’s never been mistreated and he’s had nothing but goofy affection for us.

My poor psychodog just has a screw or two loose inside his beautiful head. House arrest is a blessing – at least they didn’t drag him away in muzzle and chains.

And now, I'll need to go talk to my neighbor and offer to pay for his doctor bill.


chautauqua said...

Wow, PD still looks freaked. Have you tried medication - doggie downers? Hopefully the neighbor has recuperated.

A misfortune all around. My condolences to all involved!

Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

God, what an awful story... Looks like you're going to get off lucky, though. I big fruitbasket & some wine might ease the tension between you & the neighbor (plus the doctor bill, as you said). Though you paint the guy as friendly, I suspect he's got it in him to be a real jerk about this. I don't know for sure, but I'd wager that one can be discreet if one wants to when going to the doctor for a dog bite. (That is, I'm not sure doctors are required to report bites, are they?)

I'm off to rent Cujo now...